West Bromwich Albion have been dealt a potential blow in their bid to keep Sam Johnstone at The Hawthorns.
That’s according to a claim made by Joseph Chapman, with the Birmingham Live journalist revealing in a recent Q&A that, should Albion fail to secure promotion to the Premier League this season, it is almost certain the 28-year-old will not put pen to paper on a new deal with the club.
In his comments, Chapman said: “I do ask Val, about whether it’s made any movements yet, and the answer has always been that we’re very relaxed, that it’s going on in the background and that the talks are still there. No reason to be concerned at this moment, but it’s a situation that Albion shouldn’t have let themselves get into, that they’ve let him go into the final year of his contract.
“I know the offers for him in the summer weren’t good enough, but it’s made this situation tricky because he himself wants to play in the Premier League, I thought he’d get that move in the summer and was surprised when he didn’t.
“He’ll be the first choice pick without fail. I don’t envisage a January exit unless there’s some offer which blows Albion away. If Albion are a Premier League team this time next year, then the likelihood is that Sam Johnstone will have signed a new contract. The longer the wait goes on, he’s lining his ducks in a row, there will be those question marks.
“Will he still be in the Championship next season if Albion are? I think that’s a pretty definitive no.”
While failure to secure an immediate return to the Premier League this season would be hugely disappointing for both Valerien Ismael and fans of the club alike, the further prospect of losing Johnstone – especially on a free transfer – at the end of the current campaign would undoubtedly leave The Hawthorns faithful gutted.
While Johnstone has not quite been in the best form of his life so far this season, averaging a SofaScore match rating of 6.79 over his seven Championship appearances, the goalkeeper proved last term that he is undeniably a top-flight level player.
Indeed, despite the Baggies’ relegation, the £7.2m-rated shot-stopper impressed over his 37 Premier League appearances, keeping six clean sheets and making a remarkable 4.5 saves per game. These returns saw the man who Micah Richards dubbed an “exceptional” goalkeeper earn a seasonal SofaScore match rating of 7.03, ranking him as Albion’s second-best performer in the top flight.
As such, should Ismael’s side indeed fail to achieve promotion this season – something which Chapman clearly believes will see the £28k-per-week man leave the club – not only will the Frenchman have failed in what will undoubtedly have been his main objective upon taking over at West Brom, he will also more than likely be waving goodbye to one of his most important players in Johnstone.